Energy reforms: UP govt to phase out obsolete thermal power plants

Signalling a major energy sector reforms agenda, the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has decided to phase out old state-owned thermal power plants with obsolete machinery and low-performance score.

The plants on the firing line include Panki (Kanpur), Parichha (Jhansi) and Anpara A (Sonbhadra) thermal power plants. UP energy minister Shrikant Sharma has already directed the power department mandarins to close down old thermal units having dismal power generation records. He reiterated that the officials must strive to ensure that the plants operated profitably.

For example, the Panki power plant comprising 2 units of 110 megawatts (Mw) each totalling 220 Mw was commissioned in mid-1970s now perpetually operates at sub-optimum levels and generates only about 50 Mw, when it is not shut routinely for repairs.

A former UP Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) Director told Business Standard that most state-owned plants have obsolete machinery and there were slim chances of their revival unless completely overhauled. “The only feasible option would be to permanently shut down these plants and replace their machinery rather than resorting to the stop-gap arrangements, which are resorted to currently.”

He said there were other thermal power units as well, which needed full upgradation for achieving near optimum generation capacity, including Obra (Sonbhandra) and Harduaganj (Aligarh) thermal power units.

Meanwhile, Sharma also rapped officials for the persistent closure of 500 Mw Anpara D unit, which had necessitated import of power to the state grid over exorbitant rates. He has ordered a thorough probe in the matter and penalising erring officials.

Besides, he has asked officials to gear up for the coming summer and monsoon seasons, when UP power demand is projected to touch 21,000 Mw due to incremental energy demand and higher consumer base following ‘power for all’ scheme. The UP power consumers, estimated at 18.50 million at present, face outages and power cuts due to faulty transmission and distribution infrastructure, which the state wants to upgrade. The state wants to economise on transmission, distribution, full bill realisation and clamping down on power theft.

Sharma has also asked power distribution officials to speed up work on under-construction power plants in the state even as he maintained that Obra unit is made functional by February 25. The Adityanath government is targetting to ensure that all its thermal power units totalling about 7,260 Mw operate optimally before summers.

The state government is taking steps to rectify the problem of low power voltage in Bundelkhand region and some districts in Eastern UP.

In its supplementary budget tabled by the UP government in the legislature last month, Rs 5.8 billion had been allocated towards power distribution under Deen Dayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana, while Rs 1 billion was provided to UPPCL for up-gradation of power transmission lines.

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